On the same day that President Donald Trump signed an executive order denying federal funding to sanctuary cities, similar battle lines were drawn in Texas. State lawmakers and local jurisdictions are amassing on their respective front lines in what may be an epic battle.
Immigration detainers are at the center of the debate. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issue these requests for people held in local jails who may be in the country illegally. While previous Homeland Security policy does not mandate compliance with detainer requests, Trump putting a presidential pen to paper may change that.
Obstruction Versus Discrimination
On one side of the dispute is Texas Gov. Greg Abbot. He has allied with conservative legislators to not only cut state funding to sanctuary cities, but also remove local officeholders who refuse to enforce federal immigration law.
Joining him is Republican State Sen. Charles Perry, the sponsor of the bill that would cut funding. He cited the $800 million taxpayer “investment” on border security being undermined if local law enforcement continues to deny detainer requests.
On the opposing side is Travis County Sherriff Sally Hernandez. Days before the governor’s proclamation, she announced that her staff would limit how they respond to federal requests for potentially illegal immigrates.
Hernandez prefers that law enforcement focus on local matters, not federal immigration laws. The only exception would be detainer requests involving murder, human trafficking and other serious felonies.
Should the bill pass, Texas would join North Carolina as the only state holding local jurisdictions accountable for non-compliance with federal requests regarding illegal immigration.